There’s a new movie in town that brings together two of my favorite things: Pixar and dinosaurs.
So you’d think I’d be all excited about “The Good Dinosaur” and yet I sit here typing away feeling rather ambivalent about it.
Dinosaur cartoons are usually a mess. I prefer harsh realism with my dinosaurs, not cutesy talking dinosaurs. But this is Pixar, surely this won’t be another “The Land Before Time.”
And it’s not. But for the most part it’s lacking the sharp wit of the best of Pixar. It’s a gentle film, more geared towards younger kids — as long as they don’t freak out over yet another parent dying horribly in a Disney cartoon. Well, they’re probably used to that by now.
“The Good Dinosaur” is, well, it’s a Western starring dinosaurs. You have to give the people at Pixar credit for having wildly offbeat imaginations.
In a world where dinosaurs were not killed off by an asteroid, they apparently evolve enough to speak English and figure out how to farm and herd cattle.
The story opens at the farm of a family of Sauropods: Poppa Henry (Jeffrey Wright), Momma Ida (Frances McDormand), son Buck (Marcus Scribner), daughter Libby (Maleah Padilla), and the hero of our story — little Arlo (Raymond Ochoa).
Arlo is scrawny and cowardly, two traits that are not useful on the farm. Arlo can’t even feed the prehistoric chickens without getting into trouble.
As is the way in these movies, Arlo gets lost and separated from the family. His only companion is a wild caveboy who behaves more like a dog than a human being — hence Arlo gives him the name Spot (Jack Bright).
Arlo isn’t happy with Spot at first but of course they bond over time. They meet up with a bizarre Styracosaurus (Peter Sohn) before encounters with a trio of cattle-herding Tyrannosaurs and some crazy pterosaurs.
“The Good Dinosaur” is not great Pixar but it’s not “Cars 2” either. It’s a bit too sweet and predictable for my tastes, and they squeeze the farewell scene for every bit of emotion possible.
But it’s worth the price of admission for the gorgeous animation and the wonderfully bizarre scenes with the cowboy Tyrannosaurs. Led by — who else? — the great gravel-voiced Sam Elliott.
The T-Rex clan are the most entertaining thing about this film and their appearance is far too brief. Kudos to Pixar for not making the Tyrannosaurs the villains of the piece for a change. The raptors are still bad guys but what do you expect from raptors?